On Wednesday, we began to discuss the terribly misguided blame being placed
on individuals who suffered horrific burn injuries as a result of using
gas cans manufactured by Blitz USA. The Miami, Oklahoma factory is closing
this Tuesday, July 31, because of what it says is the cost of ongoing
litigation. As we mentioned on Wednesday, many of Blitz’s problems
may have been avoided had the company included a five-cent wire-mesh screen
called a “flame arrestor” in the cans—a concern that
Dan Rather noted was first voiced by Consumer Reports nearly 40 years ago.
Rather first reported about the harm caused by Blitz cans in 2008, and
while the company has continued to blame “consumer misuse”
of its products for causing these accidents, one follow-up report by Rather
demonstrated how false that assertion is.
Again, this explosion occurred without a fire ever being lit. “Someone
heard it from almost half a mile, three quarters of a mile away, so it
was a big boom,” Robert Jacoby would go on to tell Rather about
the explosion. “As far as, like, how it’s changed my life,
it has utterly destroyed it.”
Jacoby suffered second and third degree burns to more than 75 percent of
his body, and he told Rather that he is at a point where he cannot do
anything right now. “And I still have to have surgeries in the future,”
Jacoby told Rather. “Can’t do anything until the scar tissue
matures so it’s just a waiting game of me doing nothing until the
scar tissue heals.”
KOKI-TV reported on July 25, 2012, that there were 42 lawsuits filed against
Blitz when the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 9, 2011.
Rather tweeted that the cost of a Blitz gas can “more than doubled”
after the filing, and while the company will lay off 117 employees, executives
will still be eligible for bonuses. As for Robert Jacoby, because of the
bankruptcy filing, he and the many other victims will be unable to collect
any compensation for their injuries.
Business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC) argue that tort
reform would eliminate so-called “frivolous lawsuits,” and
the lobbying group has sought to deceive the public with dishonest documentaries
such as “InJustice” which portray negligent companies as victims
and plaintiffs as greedy. There is information about
burn injuries available on our website, and you can contact our firm at (513) 494-6941
to set up a free consultation if you have sustained a serious injury because
of a defective or dangerous product. Stories like Robert Jacoby’s
are heartbreaking because of the physical pain involved, but they should
also make people angry. When victims are seriously injured like him and
are denied the opportunity to receive the compensation they need for astronomical
medical costs, it is the taxpayers like us who have to pick up the tab.
If that is not the very definition of the term “injustice,”
then we do not know what is.